Ta-ta Sali Mali? UK Government mulls end of children’s TV fund behind S4C shows
The UK Government is mulling bringing to an end a fund that subsidises television shows for young audiences, including many of those on the Welsh language channel S4C.
The Young Audiences Content Fund, which was set up in 2018 to help cover the cost of making children’s shows for public service broadcasters, has allocated £44m over a three-year trial to support the production of shows.
5% of the entire budget was set aside for shows in the Celtic languages.
In 2020 they gave S4C the green light for over fifteen hours of content for children and young people, including Sali Mali and Welsh historical factual series ‘Hei Hanes!’ (Hey History!).
In May of this year, it was announced that Boom Cymru, Ceidiog Productions, ITV Wales and Paper Owl Films had all received funding to create brand new commissions for S4C.
Jackie Edwards, who runs the fund at the BFI, said it was “50/50” whether ministers will decide to renew their financial commitment.
“People point to some of the bigger more successful historic shows – Teletubbies, Bob the Builder, Peppa Pig,” she said. “None of those shows would get made if they were setting out today,” she told the Guardian.
“Public service broadcasting should be about expanding a child’s understanding of the world. Algorithms drive kids down a rabbit hole of more of the same. You want them to have a varied and nourishing diet, as opposed to fast food.”
Among those campaigning for a continuation of the fund is former Play School presenter Floella Benjamin, now a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords, and Konnie Huq, the longest-serving female presenter in Blue Peter’s history.
Konnie Huq said TV had an advantage over internet content: “The flipside of being able to choose whatever you want to watch on YouTube is there’s no one particularly policing this content. As a society, we’re dumbing down on all fronts.
“We make sure kids are eating their broccoli and pay for all this good stuff to be put into their bodies and make them really healthy. But then it’s easy to shove them in front of a tablet as free babysitting.”